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This workshop is for people, both business and professional, who have international contacts. It is for people who interface with foreign clients and colleagues, where English is the language of communication in meetings, negotiations, projects, teams, etc. General culture focus – examines and explores different parts of our international world. Develop culturally appropriate strategies and concrete learning points for handling cultural differences in business customs, management styles, social interaction, written communication, etc.
Information for APS managers and HR Professionals looking to fill vacant positions in the APS. The APS is committed to employing people with disability and creating inclusive work environments that reflect the diversity of the Australian community.
The APS Gender Equality Strategy sets out actions for driving high performance and boosting productivity. The APS is transforming the way it does business in order to remain relevant and continue to offer the best policy advice and service. The reality of Australia’s changing demographics—an ageing population, critical skill shortages and a shrinking proportion of younger people entering the labour market—presents ever increasing and acute capability issues for organisations. The impact of these factors is felt most acutely by line managers, who must balance day-to-day management with ensuring they have an ongoing capability to deliver business results.
Public sector organisations are increasingly focused on addressing employee attraction, performance and retention issues. The success of these efforts is significantly reliant on the capability of line managers to manage people. There is one pervasive lever to success in people management—the line manager's ability to develop effective interpersonal relationships with people throughout the organisation.
Open and effective working relationships with individual staff and the wider team are essential. Effective relationships with human resources professionals, including HR advisors, and recruitment, workforce planning, and learning and development specialists, are also critical. Your own manager and other senior managers are key influencers—again, developing good relationships here is a good investment of your time. Internal networks support you and your team members in gaining needed assistance and information. In addition, external networks are great for keeping a finger on the pulse, and provide an excellent source of advice, contacts and access to service providers. Leading productive people has been developed to help new APS managers build their people management skills. In some contexts managers may need to seek guidance from, or escalate decisions to, a higher level, depending on the agency’s governance framework. Leading productive people provides a self-development tool for managers, with general suggestions for managing and resolving common workplace issues.
The guide also provides links to further information and people management resources available within the APS.
Leading productive people provides concise advice across the ‘employee life cycle’, which consists of three key elements and seven fundamental steps a manager invariably takes with each of their staff.
As a manager, you do not need to follow the cycle in a smooth, sequential manner with each member of your staff. The employee life cycle diagram provides a useful tool for cross-checking that you have covered all the necessary actions. In addition, you should not feel compelled to address every element of the cycle within a short period of time.
Did you know?—interesting facts that challenge assumptions and address misconceptions about managing people in the APS.
Each element ends with a Find out more section that provides more detailed reference to relevant Australian Public Service Commission publications and resources with online links.
Ask HR points you towards agency specific information, approaches or expert advice that will assist you in your planning and decision-making. Find out even more provides links to the Commission’s employment policy advices, circulars and frequently asked questions. To further develop your people management skills provides a list of relevant Commission and Comcare training programmes. Over 80% of agencies reported challenges in 05–06 in recruiting people with the required skills, compounded by higher levels of employee turnover and loss of mature aged employees2 in some agencies. Agencies are noticing skill shortages in the areas of information technology, accounting and financial management, which are having a moderate to severe impact on the ability of a substantial minority of agencies to deliver.
Think about how your team’s work has changed over recent times, or how it might change in the future.
Improve the quality of your prospective field of candidates: use your networks to get in touch with talented people who are not actively seeking alternate employment.
Merit as set out in the Public Service Act 1999, underpins open and transparent selections, and allows the use of innovative and streamlined selection methods consistent with the Public Service Act s10(2). APS vacancies must be advertised in APSjobs4: for non-SES vacancies there is no legislative requirement to advertise elsewhere. You can target and encourage individuals to apply for a position, without contravening ‘merit’ short-listing and selection decisions. Selection panels can consist of a single person: there are no gender or classification requirements, and the delegate can also be on the selection panel5. For strong candidates, seek referee feedback from a range of people, including the current manager.
Provide constructive feedback to unsuccessful short-listed applicants, rather than letting them ‘slip away’. Management Advisory Committee, 2007, Reducing Red Tape in the APS, Commonwealth of Australia, p.47. Get It Right— A recruitment kit for managersA guide, project planner and capability card set which has been designed specifically to assist APS line managers achieve quality recruitment and selection decisions.
Ability at Work: Tapping the talent of people with disabilityA good practice guide to assist agencies and managers attract and retain people with disability.
Building business capability through workforce planningA summary guide and practical approaches to workforce planning. See also the Thinking about planning checklist and Consultation questions for Business Unit Managers. ANAO—Planning for the Workforce of the FutureAn overview and better practice guide to workforce planning in the APS.
Getting a Job in the APSA booklet aimed at Indigenous Australians that helps to de-mystify the APS recruitment process and provides ‘how to’ advice on addressing selection criteria and approaching interviews. Cracking the Code: How to apply for jobs in the Australian Public ServiceA series of fact sheets containing information and tips for external applicants for APS roles, including understanding APS recruitment processes and how to apply. Reducing Red Tape in the Australian Public ServiceA 2007 MAC6 report which presents a framework for ensuring that processes do not become redundant, ineffective or inappropriate over time. Managing and sustaining the APS workforceA 2005 MAC report which identifies the workforce issues caused by an ageing population, skills shortages and tighter labour markets and suggests a range of actions to assist agencies respond.
Ongoing Employment—Recruitment and Related IssuesGeneral advice on non-SES, ongoing recruitment and selection issues.
Conditions of EngagementGeneral advice on the conditions of engagement that may be imposed, excluding probation, when engaging APS employees. Promotions and movements at level for existing APS employees are not subject to probation—if expectations are clear and stated upfront you and the employee are more likely to set off and stay on the right foot.

If your employee is new to the APS, remember that you will be like an interpreter for them.
Model the behaviour that you expect them to demonstrate: the APS Values guide behaviour and decision making and it is up to you to set the tone for how things should be done. Manage the probation period closely, through weekly discussions with your new staff member.
The performance agreement can be set up after the first week, and used initially to check how things are going during the probation or settling-in period. Expectations change over time so it’s important to have regular discussions to check where your employees are at and what they may need to keep performing. The main barrier to learning is the difficulty people have in balancing work demands and development needs. The most effective learning takes place ‘on-the- job’ and is functionally relevant and job specific. Make time available in your work programme for staff development, and look for ways to reorganise or reschedule the work to enable development activities to occur. Identify the knowledge and skills your team requires for their current roles, for emerging needs and to develop their careers.
Capture and share expert knowledge across the team, maybe through presentations at staff meetings, feedback from external meetings, debriefing project status (etc).
Be an ‘on-the-job’ coach by offering and providing support, advice and opportunities for learning. Following through on commitments—there is nothing more frustrating when people’s expectations are raised and they are not given time to attend development programmes or apply new skills in the workplace. Using your resources wisely—avoid training programmes which don’t line up with your business requirements, provide value for money or meet development objectives.
Building Capability: A Framework for Managing Learning and Development in the APSA guide which provides agencies with a useful learning and development framework and checklist for building capability.
The Integrated Leadership SystemA framework outlining leadership capability requirements for all APS classification levels.
Evaluating learning and development—A framework for judging successA guide providing an evaluation framework for agencies to make key decisions on how to evaluate and assess the level of success of learning and development activities. APS Values and Code of Conduct in Practice: A Guide to official conduct for APS employees and agency headsAdvice to assist APS employees to understand the practical application of the APS Values and Code of Conduct. ProbationGeneral advice and guidance on matters that need to be considered in relation to engaging an employee on probation. Managers undermine their own credibility when they do not address marginal or poor performance in their team in a timely way. Aim to provide each staff member with one piece of positive and one piece of constructive feedback (aimed at improvement) informally every week.
Do not have the ‘difficult conversation’ as a knee jerk reaction—plan ahead and structure your discussion rationally.
Deliver positive feedback or praise in person, and also recognise key achievements publicly, e.g. Genuinely encourage and seek feedback about your performance and management style from your staff and your manager. Leaving bad news for appraisals or referee reports—these are some of the worst things you can do.
Giving constructive feedback on things unrelated to work performance or behaviour—always ensure the feedback is directly relevant to work performance or behaviour and not simply something that annoys you. Get to know your ‘bottom line’ responsibilities as a manager—ask HR for advice in this area.
Make yourself aware of your agency’s employment framework, conditions and entitlements, and the HR services you can access to assist in your management role. Where work is new or complex, or an assignment is large, work directly with your staff to ‘chunk’ it into manageable phases, clarifying requirements, timeframes and responsibilities for each phase. Establish work protocols with the team for smooth ‘housekeeping’, for example, the purpose and frequency of meetings, workplace coverage (duties, phones and emails) during absences and dealing with conflict. Take any complaints or expressed concerns about safety, discrimination, harassment or bullying seriously. High performance in one role does not always predict potential for success in another role or at the next level. Succession management and career planning are fully compatible with APS legislation—both aim to ensure a strong pool of potential candidates ready to compete on merit for future roles. Employees who leave organisations after three or more years of service are often looking for something new but aren’t sure where they are going. Only 42% of APS employees agree that their manager deals appropriately with employees who perform poorly.
Integrate a career development focus into employees’ learning and development plans: discuss and document, highlighting key strengths, interests and any required development to assist your people to achieve those career goals that are in line with the agency objectives. Regularly check the career aspirations of each staff member, regardless of how stable they have been within the current role or team, as work expectations and career aspirations can change over time. Don’t overlook employees who are not seeking advancement—continue to provide performance feedback and discuss career moves and challenges. Sharpening the Focus: Managing Performance in the APSA guide assisting agencies to reflect upon, review and refine their performance management approaches and systems.
A good practice guide designed to foster a better understanding of ‘respect’, providing strategies to help APS leaders and managers address workplace harassment and bullying, and to develop positive, harassment free workplaces. A booklet designed to assist agencies establish and implement a programme to effectively embed the principles of workplace diversity in their organisational culture and management systems.
A guide which highlights the critical succession management issues facing APS agencies and discusses elements of the succession management process.
A guide providing managers with an outline of their responsibilities and advice on providing work performance counselling (a joint Comcare and Australian Public Service Commission publication). A summary guide providing managers with a brief overview of the steps and actions that may be involved in handling misconduct.
Ask HR for information about relevant policies and guidelines, advice on how to handle specific management situations, practical tools, and referrals as required.
It is a strategy for harnessing the best talent, changing cultures, and challenging assumptions that hold us back.
They face increasing challenges in their ability to attract, develop and retain the people they need to produce those results. Line managers are primarily responsible for delivering results through their employees, consequently they also have a direct impact on the engagement, performance and retention of their employees. They facilitate you gaining quality and timely advice, and support and coaching in sensitive situations. It identifies the essential steps and best approaches that managers can take to build the productivity and effectiveness of their people.
It also highlights the need for new managers to think strategically about, and provide input to, work design and workforce issues. In others, they will be authorised to take the lead and resolve the particular management issues. The tips provided can be interpreted for application within the manager’s specific operating context. Each employee’s circumstances and career journey are unique, so you may move fluidly between and across the steps depending on the nature of each situation.
Specific elements of the cycle will not necessarily occur throughout your duration as manager.

Look out for external issues and challenges that will impact on your recruitment and skill development needs. Think carefully about the capabilities and specific skills you need to get the work done now and in future.
However, there is no limitation on the type or number of additional channels you can use to advertise a role. You can choose a range of other methods, including work sample tests and verbal referee checks, to test each person’s capability in a thorough way. Develop an action plan, identify discrete tasks and stick to identified milestones for advertising, short-listing, assessment and decision making.
Try to create a positive first impression of your agency (as ‘a good place to work’) and yourself as a manager (as ‘good to work for’) through your advertising, approach and communication style. Provide a copy of the interview questions 30 minutes or so prior to meeting with the candidate to enable them to provide thoughtful and quality responses.
This is an investment for filling future vacancies—many applicants have the potential to be ideal for a future role. If you don’t plan a recruitment exercise well from the start, it could take ‘forever’ to complete.
If no-one meets your criteria it’s better to start again than hire someone who is unlikely to fit the role requirements or your performance expectations.
In particular, the report presents a sample streamlined recruitment case study and provides answers to common APS recruitment myths. Your team needs to understand the connection between their own work and the organisation’s strategy and goals.2 You must explain this connection clearly and involve staff in relevant discussions.
Do not underestimate how important it is to understand the background and framework to the way you operate (e.g.
Run through the relevant ‘must know’ policies and guidelines, business plans and work plans. Don’t expect a new employee to read a manual in the first week and understand the way the organisation works. The two main reasons given by APS employees as to why their agreed learning and development did not take place were appropriate opportunities not occurring and other things taking priority5.
Work with the Learning and Development area to ascertain funding availability for development purposes, to access corporately funded opportunities which meet identified needs, and to identify the most appropriate programmes, learning methods or providers.
Identifies career pathways and support tools to assist professional development, capability planning and succession management. Formal discussions should have a ‘no surprises’ philosophy, and focus on performance strengths, achievements, future challenges and development needs. Be aware that you have a duty of care to others in your workplace in relation to behaviour, occupational health and safety and anti-discrimination legislation. Report any identified areas of need or concern promptly, for example in relation to workplace behaviour, lighting, noise, air quality, condition of furniture, accessibility and storage. When delegating work, play to people’s strengths as much as possible, then focus on providing ‘stretching’ but achievable challenges.
Plan ahead for leave absences, and ensure staff know why they have access to other leave entitlements. Seek advice and information from HR if necessary, but do something to address these concerns.
Do make time for some fun and social activity in your workplace—to celebrate life events (birthdays, weddings etc) or team success, and to provide a chance for people to get to know each other.
Be prepared to take on a coaching role, to obtain and provide information, and to provide development opportunities e.g. Don’t work from stereotypes by assuming mature-age or part-time workers do not have career aspirations or that younger or full-time workers aspire to higher or broader roles.
Consider lateral moves (within the organisation, across agencies and across industry sectors), functional moves and ‘at level’ development stretches which provide valuable personal and professional development. Inhibiting a staff member’s career because you want to hold on to them may backfire and cause you longer-term recruitment and retention issues.
The following suggestions are not exhaustive, but give an idea of the sorts of services you can access via your desktop or by working directly with the HR area. In any case, the manager should be developing their awareness of and skills in handling people management issues.
Avoid recruiting for a role that is no longer needed, or which is based on outdated requirements. Give the candidate an opportunity to respond to adverse feedback, in order to ensure procedural fairness and natural justice. Chances are that the best people will have taken up other opportunities long before you get around to offering them a job.
It might be better to use word of mouth or other advertising channels next time around, or revisit alternative ways of getting the work done. To enable the new person to become productive as soon as possible in an unfamiliar situation, make sure he or she feels welcome and supported in the new environment. Above all, do not cancel these meetings— provide time, advice, coaching and feedback to make sure the new person is on track. Develop an induction plan that covers the first six months, introducing the agency systems and policies, outlining the ‘big picture’, their role and where their work fits in, the accepted work practices, and broader APS frameworks and guidelines. Identify and discuss any gaps, and specify appropriate development opportunities to address these. Focus discussions on clarifying what is expected, how they are going in meeting those expectations, and what additional skills and knowledge would help to enhance their performance.
Keep a record of these discussions, particularly where commitments and agreements have been made. Always talk to a staff member if and when you feel their work is moving off track, not later. Use HR reports to identify high levels or emerging patterns of unscheduled workplace absence: look for and address causes. Encourage all staff to update their skills to maintain performance, employability and work satisfaction. Consider the needs of the individual, the team, the agency and the APS as a whole when considering requests for career moves or role changes. They are keen to pursue jobs that are interesting and to maintain a good balance between work and other aspects of their lives. The transition is more than the formal induction or welcome morning tea—what happens in the first few months is critical, and demonstrates the value you are placing on your decision to recruit them. Use the exit interview process to find out the reasons for voluntary departures, as a measure of what is happening in the workplace.
As a result, agencies are experiencing an increased readiness and capacity of people to ‘move on’ if their work experience does not measure up to their expectations.
You might choose a ‘buddy’ (preferably a high performer with useful organisational relationships and networks) to assist the new person, but you cannot delegate your role in ensuring a smooth transition.

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